When Reggie Jackson became Mr. October and did all the Mr. October things, you would never measure him solely by how many World Series he helped his team win. You measure him by the way he actually asks us to watch him before he hits another home run. There are always moments around this time of year for Reggie, and when they come up, he knows what to do with them. Bryce Harper is like that.
Harper didn’t need the Braves’ Orlando Arcia to chirp at him about the way Harper was doubled in Game 2 of the NLDS. All he needs is another big game moment to remind us that while there are other players hitting home runs here and there, Harper is arguably our greatest baseball star right now.
He also had the most homers for Reggie, and not just because he hit two home runs against the Braves, who the Phillies beat 10-2. Harper showed us he can be just as salty as Reggie used to be, like he showed Arcia when he hit second base twice after a home run.
“I can’t control where he looks,” Arciya said through an interpreter after the game.
Harper could look, after the rest of us had just watched the flight of the ball and where it landed on the seats. We know the Phillies vs. Braves game is going to be interesting. Now we find out how interesting it is for the Phillies to try to close out the Braves again and the Braves to try to win another game and take their season back to Atlanta.
“We call him ‘The Performer’ for a reason,” Harper’s teammate Trea Turner, who hit a home run in Game 3, said after the game.
Everyone knows what Arcia said after Game 2, about Michael Harris II’s catch-and-relay, and Austin Riley’s double-team on Harper — who believed Harris wouldn’t Caught the ball and finished second. Wall – He, Harper, would equalize. “Atta boy, Harper,” Arciya reportedly said with a smile in the Warriors clubhouse. This is not the baseball crime of the century. But the comment got out — as everything does — so it wasn’t just Arcia’s teammates who heard it, it was heard by Harper and the Phillies.
Harper responded with a three-run home run, followed by a single. The Phillies ended up hitting a total of six home runs, rocking the entire game on what they called “bank” pitches. But it’s Harper’s swing that everyone is talking about and will remember from this game. His October home run was just that. Last October, he hit what was then his fifth home run of the postseason, a two-run double in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Padres, giving the Phillies the game-winning run of the night that clinched the ticket. Participated in the World Series for the first time since 2009.
That’s what he said later about his two home runs against the Braves and the two looks he gave Arcia.
“I love comments and stuff like that. … Anytime someone says something, right? I mean, that’s what it’s all about,” Harper said.
After the game, the Blue Jays’ Chris Bassitt jokingly addressed what happened between Arcia and Harper on X (formerly Twitter):
“Pitchers love it when their own team’s position players piss off the other team’s superstar players.”
Reggie Jackson went to five World Series, while Harper still only went to one. Reggie hit more home runs in October. But there’s still plenty of time for Harper to keep doing what he did on Wednesday night and what he’ll do when the Phillies reach the World Series in 2022. Harper has been playing postseason baseball since he was 19 years old. At 19, he made his major league debut with the Nationals. He’s been a baseball star ever since and never been more of a baseball star than he is now with the Phillies.
One thing about Harper that’s easy to forget because it feels like we’ve known him for half his life: He didn’t celebrate his 31st birthday until Monday.
He’s definitely not the only guy in baseball today to hit a big home run in the postseason. The Astros’ Yordan Alvarez is as good a fit as Harper this time of year, and he continues to prove it every time he gets the chance. José Abreu hit a couple of balls for the Astros that still haven’t been knocked down to this day. The D-backs hit four home runs in one inning that night, and they ruined another playoff run for the Dodgers. The Rangers’ Mitch Garver hit a grand slam against the Orioles that might have been the punch that really started to finish them off.
But Bryce Harper was the one talking Wednesday, asking us to watch him. again. That’s what baseball stars are like. Found them instantly. Then they know what to do. And keep doing it.